Pascal Tessier, 17, of Maryland, became one of the first out Eagle Scouts in the history of the Boy Scouts of America earlier this year, after the organization lifted its ban on gay scouts.
On Wednesday, the Chevy Chase resident challenged the Boy Scouts' remaining ban on gay scout leaders, delivering a Change.org petition with more than 120,000 signatures to the Seattle headquarters of Amazon, asking the online retailer to halt donations by its charitable program, AmazonSmile, to the Boy Scouts.
He was joined by Geoff McGrath, a Scoutmaster from Seattle who was fired earlier this year because he is gay.
"I am standing here today outside of Amazon.com's headquarters to deliver one important message: discrimination is nothing to smile about," Tessier said, according to a statement. "I'm asking Amazon to stand by its own policy and its commitment to the LGBT community, and remove organizations that discriminate against LGBT people -- like the Boy Scouts of America did when they fired Geoff McGrath -- from their AmazonSmile program."
Tessier first spoke out against the Boy Scouts' anti-gay policies before the organization lifted its ban on gay scouts, when his being gay threatened his becoming an Eagle Scout.
Tessier earned his Eagle Scout ranking in Montgomery County in February, becoming one of the first openly gay scouts to earn the ranking in the country.
Under the organization's current rules banning participation by gay adults, Tessier would be forced out of the organization upon his next birthday.
Advocacy organizations that helped organize the Amazon petition drive said the company accepted the signatures but did not offer further comments. The groups said AmazonSmile's own policy bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.
An Amazon spokesman told The Washington Post that the company relies on lists published by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control "to determine if certain organizations are ineligible to participate" in its charitable programs.
The Boy Scouts of America has said it represents millions of youth and adults with different opinions and beliefs on issues, and understands and appreciates that not everyone will agree on all of its policies.
- The list of states allowing same-sex marriages continues to climb. There was Oregon this week, and then there was the decision in Pennsylvania. Then there was the case brought in Montana, which leaves just two states in the country -- North Dakota and South Dakota -- with marriage bans that aren't currently being challenged legally. It's a lot to keep track of, I know. To help with that, here's a great interactive graphic of "gay marriage chronology" from the Los Angeles Times.
- Newly uncovered documents from the 1960s show the government had established policies for discriminating against gay employees in the federal workplace. "Some feel that 'once a homo, always a homo,'" wrote John W. Steele, a staff member of the Civil Service Commission, in 1964, after being asked whether gay employees could be "rehabilitated" and keep their jobs. Check out the story here from The New York Times.
- The Washington Blade reported that there is some disagreement among LGBT advocacy organizations on how to confront challenges to Maryland's recently-passed transgender protections bill.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun